You Want Muscle?
This week-end, the Woodward Dream Cruise takes over Woodward Avenue in Detroit.
Yes, I know.
Detroit doesn’t sound like your idea of a destination city.
Well, then: compensate. Stay at the Ritz-Carleton in Dearborn. Of course, you’ll probably have a bit of a problem getting a room this late in the game, but maybe there will be a cancellation.
But if you love cars and you can be there, you owe it to yourself to do the Woodward Dream Cruise.
You see, there’s a history.
And people who get old have this attachment to the dreams of their youth.
In the 1960’s, part of youth was the muscle car.
Jan and Dean immortalized “Dead Man’s Curve” and the Beach Boys made a “Deuce coupe” glamorous, but Woodward Avenue in the sixties was not about glamour.
It was about power.
A straight shot, a tacit understanding by the local police that they had better things to do elsewhere, and the road in the back yard of what, in that day, were the “Big Three.”
There was no place in America where cars ran faster, the competition was keener, or more unforgiving. Detroit engineers showed up with their “personal” cars, the ones they’d built on their own time with the components provided by the companies for which they worked.
It wasn’t merciful.
It was a proving ground.
You either did it, or you didn’t. If you didn’t, nobody cared. If you did, then you needed to think about what you were going to do next. Because you could be the one that didn’t next time around.
The cops never shut it down.
The OPEC thing, and gas prices, and pollution controls, and Jimmy Carter did that. And those engineers went to work every morning trying to figure out how to reduce oxides of nitrogen, when they would have much more preferred introducing NOS into the intake, at exactly the right time on Woodward Avenue.
There is no car show that can equal this, because the Woodward Dream Cruise is about homage.
We’re on the verge of 600 hp cars. Bentley already has one, and Chevrolet is promising one for the coming year. That’s not 600 hp as some of us understood it when growing up, and it is not 600 hp of the days when those Chrysler engineers were doing there damnest to get the hemi to make low-end torque.
In terms of the ‘60’s, it is about one thousand horsepower.
But it all started on Woodward Avenue, the proving ground of the car companies when being the best wasn’t an honor, it was a title.
This week-end, the Woodward Dream Cruise will begin.
If you are in the neighborhood, then you should be there.
It is everything that cars are supposed to be, populated by people who know that cars are fundamental, an expression of our spirit, and a way of expressing our liberty.
I won’t be there, except in spirit.
Next year, maybe.